Thomas Gianni Art

Thomas Gianni, painting mural
Thomas Gianni

was born and raised in the great metropolis of Chicago. His art education started with comic books and the artists that created them: Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, and Steve Ditko to name a few. He attended the American Academy of Art where he studied under Fred Berger, Irving Shapiro, and Howard Mueller. There he discovered Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth and J.C. Leyendecker. He earned a post baccalaureate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Visual Communication.

He has worked in advertising as a storyboard artist and product renderer, in animation as a background painter, in editorial and book illustration, in portraiture, in collectible card game art for Magic the Gathering and the Harry Potter game. He is currently illustrating a series of Robert E. Howard books for the REH Foundation. For his work on the Howard books, the REH Foundation awarded him the Rankin Award for Artistic Achievement.

Since 1981, he has worked as the courtroom sketch artist for the WGN, NBC, and CNN television networks. He has drawn Mafioso, corrupt politicians and serial killers. He recently covered three high profile trials: the trial of Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, the Jennifer Hudson family murder trial, and the trial of the notorious Drew Petersen.

In 2012, he painted a 20 foot by 4 foot mural for the children's room in the Eisenhower Public Library in Harwood Heights, Illinois. Friend and painter, Kathy Von Dorn Banks, assisted him.

His current influence is the great pulp magazine art of the 1930's and 40's. He is currently writing and illustrating a graphic novel, Mechanic Anna, in the vein of the pulps.

Since 1983, he has taught illustration, portraiture, structural anatomy, graphic design, and advertising at the American Academy of Art, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College.

What to Know More About Tom?

International School of Comics Meet the Faculty | International School of Comics
Current faculty member Thomas Gianni sits down with DRG-TV producer J. Battiato to discuss his influences, teaching philosophy, and what it was like to meet the legendary Jack Kirby!


Tom Gianni honored by Robert E. Howard Foundation | Read More . . .
Academy of Art University online illustration instructor Tom Gianni recently won the Rankin Award for his pulp artwork. The award is given to selected artists by the Robert E. Howard Foundation and honors artistic achievement in the depiction of Robert E. Howard's life and work.

Artbeat Chicago: Artist Tom Gianni | Read More . . .
Elizabeth Brackett interviews Gianni on Chicago Tonight, January 11, 2012. He discusses the origins of his graphic novel character, Mechanic Anna, and the mural he painted for the Eisenhower Public Library.

Courtroom Artists' Future In Peril | Read More . . .
Tom Gianni will be the first to tell you his profession is old-fashioned, outdated and underappreciated. But he shudders at the thought of giving it up. A courtroom artist for 30 years, the Chicago man has had a front-row seat for some of the region's most notorious criminal trials — Drew Peterson, Rod Blagojevich, the Jennifer Hudson family murders, to name a few — but now cameras are inching their way onto his turf.

Courtroom Artists See Themselves Getting the Brush | Read More . . .
Thomas Gianni was perched on a step stool in the lobby of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, his hand racing over a sketch. Gianni was producing art on deadline, a sketch at a sprint, and also practicing a craft that is slowly disappearing.